Children aged 2-5 no longer required to wear masks when attending child care programs

Posted at 6:07 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 18:07:07-04

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKBW) — In a joint statement Monday, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and New York State Department of Health (DOH) released updated guidance removing the requirement for children aged 2-5 to wear masks when attending child care programs.

Last week New York State released updated guidance for child care, day camp and overnight camp programs.

In the updated guidance the state said:

"Children and campers over the age of two and staff who are not fully vaccinated must wear face coverings except when eating, drinking, showering, swimming, or sleeping/resting."

Parents and daycare operators were surprised by the change in the guidance and immediately questioned it. Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday it was all based on Centers for Disease Control (CDD) guidance, science and data.

In the joint statement Monday NYS OCFS and DOH said they agreed to revise guidance and are encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks when attending child care programs effective immediately.

You can read the full statement below:

We thank the providers who have worked so hard since the start of the pandemic to remain open to serve the families of those who could not stay home and we recognize their valiant efforts in serving working families who need quality, reliable and safe child care.

Both agencies understand how difficult it is to require the youngest children to wear masks, and have jointly agreed to revise guidance allowing child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic by encouraging, not requiring, children aged 2-5 to wear masks, effective immediately.

The safety of the children in child care programs is of paramount importance. As more families are returning to work, New York State is investing federal funds in stabilizing the industry and expanding child care programs throughout the state, especially in underserved areas.

We strongly encourage any remaining child care staff who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to prevent the